MAHOPAC – While characterizing assertions that a Mahopac player used racist language during a high school basketball game against in-town rival Carmel as “one person’s word against another’s,” his school superintendent said Monday “appropriate action” had been taken against the student.
Superintendent Brian Monahan cited “several instances of unsportsmanlike behavior” during the Jan. 7 game, but would not confirm that the player, who’d started serving an indefinite suspension after the game, has been suspended from the team for the rest of the season.
The district, which suspended several student fans last year for racist tweeting following a season-ending loss to predominantly African-American Mount Vernon, interviewed coaches, players and game officials as part of an investigation of the Mahopac-Carmel game.
“We did not identify any instance of racial language but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Monahan said. “We received conflicting information on that.”
He said the action taken against the player stemmed from interviews with players and officials and a review of tapes of the game, which Carmel won in double overtime.
“This instance does not reflect what this district is all about. … It’s not how the vast majority of our athletes behave,” Monahan said.
Neither district has identified the players involved.
Carmel officials had alleged that one of their players was elbowed in the face and head several times and appeared to have been targeted.
Carmel has four African-American players but it is believed the alleged elbows and racist language — the n-word — were primarily directed at only one.
The teams played again this past Friday, with Mahopac winning. Security was tight.
Afterward, an African-American Carmel player, Beau-Ryan Kershaw, said he’d heard the n-word during the Jan. 7 game but not that day.
Monahan, who said all students were spoken to before that game, said, “I was especially pleased by the behavior of both teams and of the fans.”
But he added, “This doesn’t mean everything will be fine forever. Now we need to reinforce things.”